Our Favourite Beginner-Friendly (But Not Beginner!) Motorcycles

Motorcycles are approximately 50 per cent about having fun, 50 per cent about looking cool. Maybe for you it’s 70–30 or vice versa, but anyone who pretends otherwise is lying. This presents a problem for new riders, because bikes for beginners are generally a) crummy and b) ugly. At the same time, you shouldn’t jump straight on a 1,000cc race-replica Ducati or 400 kg Harley as a newly minted rider, because you’ll more than likely launch yourself into a tree. That’s not a good look either.

To get ready for the new riding season, we’ve hand-picked our favourite beginner-friendly bikes that don’t look like beginner bikes, and some versatile gear to pair them with.

Harley-Davidson Iron 883

News of Harley’s upcoming all-electric LiveWire and e-bicycle concept shook the motorcycling world — and made us stop and take notice of all the other bikes the company is already making. As it turns out, the reinvention has already begun. Harley is wooing a new generation of riders with bikes like this latest Sportster Iron 883. It’s low and (relatively) light. It’s easy to ride with a fairly neutral seating position and an air-cooled 883cc V-twin that won’t overwhelm a new rider.

$11,500, harley-davidson.com

Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled

Ducati makes a whole range of beginner-friendly Scramblers. Take your pick — they’ve been updated for 2019 with better ABS. All are pretty, Italian, and unintimidating, with upright ergonomics and low seats. We’d opt for the 800cc Desert Sled. It’s the tallest bike in the Scrambler stable, but also the most versatile.

$13,495, scramblerducati.com

Husqvarna Svartpilen 701

Flat track is a sport that involves sliding a motorcycle sideways around a dirt oval. Almost any bike will work if you’re brave enough, but dedicated flat-track machines look, well, something like this new Svartpilen 701 from Sweden’s Husqvarna. The light and nimble single-cylinder thumper is also suited to darting through the city.

$13,400, husqvarna-motorcycles.com

KTM 790 Adventure R

Light enough for serious off-road excursions but powerful enough for a day on the highway, the all-new 790 fills a gap in the market. With adjustable suspension and a full complement of electronic rider aids, you’ll be able to adapt the bike as your skill improves. It’ll have you dreaming of the Dakar Rally on your daily commute.

$14,600, ktm.com

The Gear

Treadwell Canvas Vest

A no non-sense riding vest with six pockets, from a TO brand.

$100, townmoto.com

Dainese Alger Nomad Jacket

A perfect throwback to the late ’80s glory days of the Dakar Rally.

$580 USD, dainese.com

Velomacchi Giro 35L 

A waterproof pack from an ex-North Face designer.

$180 USD, velomacchi.com

Dainese Tan-Tan Boots

From the Italian brand’s new Dunes collection, with CE rated protection.

$200 USD, dainese.com